Road Cycling

Rio 2016 | What is the Format and What are the Rules For the Olympic Road Cycling Race and Time Trial?

Everything you need to know about the rules of the Olympic road cycling

What is the format and what are the rules for the Olympic road cycling race?

There are two different disciplines for road cycling at the Olympics Games; the road race and the time trial. Each of those disciplines are competed in both the men’s and women’s category.

Before you watch any of the athletes go for gold in the road cycling in Rio, you’re going to want to know the rules and the format of the road race and the time trial. Let’s have a look.

Rio Road Cycling 2016 | What are the Rules of the Olympic Road Race?


The format for the Olympic road cycling race is a simple one; all competitors set off from a designated start point at the same time in a mass start, and the first one to complete the course and cross the finish line takes home the gold medal.

> Road Cycling at the Olympics | What are the Time Trial and Road Race Courses For the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?

The maximum distance allowed for any one-day road race under the UCI’s rules and regulations is between 250-280km for men and 120-140km for women. In Rio, the men’s course will come in at 256.4km long for the men and 130.3km long for the women.

Chris Froome and Lizzie Armitstead will be hoping to bring home the golds in this category come race day!

The Rules of the Olympic Road Race: Selected Details

Riders must be present at least 15 minutes before the start of the race. They will sign a starting sheet which “will terminate ten minutes before the time for leaving the assembly point.” The rules read that “riders shall be required to sign on the starting sheet, otherwise be eliminated or disqualified from the race.”

Identification numbers will be used in the race. The person who was Olympic champion at the previous Olympic games will be number one, if they are competing.

All riders “may lend each other such minor services as lending or exchanging food, drink, spanners or accessories.”

During any event over a distance of 150km, it is recommended that riders be supplied with refreshments only from the team car. They should “be provided in either bonkbags or flasks”.

Feeding is prohibited on climbs, descents, and during the first 50 and final 20km of the race, though this can change “depending on atmospheric conditions and the category, type and length of the race.”

No vehicle may overtake the riders in the last 10km of the race. During Olympic Games, only the vehicles mentioned below are authorised to drive in the race:

  1. the car of the president of the commissaires panel
  2. the second commissaire’s car
  3. the third commissaire’s car
  4. the fourth commissaire’s car
  5. the organizing committee manager’s car
  6. the UCI technical delegate’s car
  7. the doctor’s car
  8. two ambulances
  9. the police car
  10. the nations’ cars, plus four neutral support cars and one neutral support motorcycle
  11. a maximum of three camera motor-cycles and one sound motor cycle
  12. the two commissaire’s motorcycles
  13. the two photographers’ motorcycles
  14. the traffic manager’s motorcycle, if necessary
  15. the two information motorcycles
  16. the doctor’s motorcycle
  17. the time board motorcycle
  18. the police motor-cycles.
  19. the broom wagon

Rio Road Cycling 2016 | What are the Rules of the Olympic Time Trial?


The format for the Olympic time trial sees riders start at regular intervals, 90 seconds apart from one another, and the rider to record the fastest time from start to finish takes home the gold medal.

The Rules of the Olympic Time Trial: Selected Details

All riders must present themselves for checks on their bicycle no later than 15 minutes before their start time.

The riders must all start from a stationary position. They should be held and then released, without being pushed, by a holder. The same holder is to be used for every rider.

The rules state that if one rider is caught up by another “he may neither lead nor follow in the slipstream of the rider who caught up.”

“A rider, upon catching up with another shall leave a lateral gap of at least two metres between himself and the other rider. After 1km, the rider caught up shall rider at least 25m away from the other.”

The rules also state simply that “riders may not help one another”.

Each rider may have a following vehicle which should follow at least 10m behind the rider, never overtaking or drawing level with him. The following vehicle of a rider who is about to be caught should drop back behind the vehicle of the catcher as soon as he is under 100m away from the rider in front of him.

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